Who'd have thunk you could pack so much fun, laughter, disappointment, education, enlightenment, good food, success, failure, friendship and encouragement into just four days. This is truly why I love obedience: no matter what happens, there's always friendship and encouragement and there's always a fresh determination to do better the next time.
When Sharon and I set off Thursday morning, our goals for the weekend were clear: UDX legs for Rudy and two final CDX legs for Phoenix.
It didn't quite work out that way.
Friday: Phoenix Q'd in Open B for his second CDX leg. It was a totally lackluster, going-through-the-motions performance. This is NOT the dog I thought I'd trained. But perhaps it was. Certainly no one else has trained him so he is a product of me and no one else. Yikes. Something needs to change!
Saturday: A slightly better performance punctuated by a very distracted Phoenix walking around the high jump on the way back with his dumbbell because he was fascinated by the daschund in the ring next door. Guess I need to rent a doxie for proofing.
Sunday: Finally, I got some semblance of my dog back. He was focussed and on the job . . . until the last about turn on the heel free. I turned. He stopped to look at, well, I'm not sure what he was looking at. The judge called halt. I stopped and called him to heel. He came up into position and sat. We failed.
Yeah, major disappointment. The judge said "Your dog would have sat out of reach." Since Phoenix HADN'T sat before I called him, I said, "Aren't I allowed a second heel command if he's out of position?" No.
I didn't agree but I'm not going to argue with a judge. He called it like he saw it. I think according to his interpretation of the rules, if I'd called Phoenix while I was still walking, we would have lost points for the second command but would have Q'd. Oh well. Another lesson learned.
But Phoenix did his group exercises three days in a row!!! Good brilliant wonderful maligator!
They say doG works in mysterious ways and this weekend was certainly proof of that. Things didn't go much better for Sharon and Rudy. Between Sharon and I, we came home with exactly one qualifying run out of nine. In fact, when we got in the van to leave the show site today, we both looked at each other, said "Oh F**K!", then had a good laugh.
We both agreed that we learned a lot about our dogs this weekend. Thanks to advice and encouragement from good friends, I have lots of different approaches get our teamwork and performance level back where I want to see it. Although it was pretty much a bust in the qualifying department, the weekend may have been just what I needed in the grander scheme of Phoenix's obedience career.
Sharon and I trained dogs for the whole five hour drive home and by the time she picked up her van at our place, I think we had solved all our boys' issues. Now to get busy training and make it happen!
We're off from obedience trials for nearly six weeks. Won't be showing again until the Amana trials on Labor Day weekend, so lots of time to start working through some of the glitches that showed up.
Tonight, I'm looking forward to sleeping in my own bed with my own pillow.